Solar power is an alternative energy source with tremendous economic and environmental benefits. If you’re considering it for your home, here are the basics.
Sunning Your Home
Put simply, solar power works by converting free sunlight into usable energy. This process involves using photovoltaic tiles or platforms to capture the energy inherent in sunlight. The photovoltaic materials consist of positive and negative slices of material, often silicone, that react to the sun. As the sunlight hits these cells, the energy “slices” off negatively charged ions. This creates a magnetic field, a form of energy. The energy is then captured in small wires, which forms an electric current. The wires are connected to an inverter. The inverter converts the energy into a usable power source.
The beauty of solar power is it is a free source of energy. Historically, the cost of capturing and maintaining solar power wasn’t cheap, but this has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Systems are now much more efficient, with the total cost usually involved in the purchase and installation. Depending on the system, there is almost no maintenance cost and most systems have a 40 or 50 year life span. Not bad, eh?
Going solar is also more attractive now because of laws passed by numerous states. Initially, homeowners can get a tax rebate for installing solar. On top of this, more than half of the states now mandate a concept known as “net metering.”
Net metering is all about saving tons of money on your utilities. Essentially, you are now allowed to “sell” power back to the utility companies at the same price they charge you. With solar power, this means you can simply feed your system into the utility grid during the day and then use regular energy at night. Since your utility meter runs backwards, this effectively means you will dramatically reduce, if not eliminate, your electricity bills. This process alone can save you thousands of dollars a year and $40,000 to $100,000 over the life of the system, depending on your typical monthly bills. With such savings, you can see why solar power is becoming more attractive.
When it comes to solar power, the question isn’t whether you should use it. The real question is why you aren’t using it already!